Fresh move to import rice as local purchase target may not be met
The government has taken a fresh initiative to import rice amid concerns that the domestic procurement target during the ongoing Aman season might not be achieved.
Yesterday, the government approved the import of one lakh tonnes of rice. It came during a meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase that was chaired by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.
The suppliers have already been chosen through an open international tender.
Indian company Bagadiya Brothers Pvt Ltd will supply 50,000 tonnes at the price of $393.19 per tonne. Singapore-based Agrocorp International Pte Ltd will supply 50,000 tonnes at $397.03 per tonne.
A senior official of the food ministry said the government might go for more rice import if the domestic procurement target falls short of the goal. However, the government's food stock is at a satisfactory level currently, he said.
On Tuesday, the government's food stock stood at 18.19 lakh tonnes. Of the volume, 3.64 lakh tonnes are wheat, and the rest are rice, food ministry data showed.
The official said the prime minister has directed the ministry to ensure sufficient stock of food grain as there is a global concern about a food crisis in 2023.
In 2022, rice production suffered disruptions due to floods in the haor areas and a lack of rain. So, the government's rice procurement target in the Aman season may not be reached.
"The food ministry is giving priority to importing rice amid such concerns," said the official.
The government has set a target to procure three lakh tonnes of paddy and five lakh tonnes of rice from the local market.
To achieve the target, it raised in November the purchase rate of paddy by Tk 1 to fix it at Tk 28 per kilogramme. It revised upwards the purchase price of rice by Tk 2 to Tk 42.
Besides, the government undertook various initiatives to make the procurement target a success.
It aimed to ensure 70 per cent of the purchase of the targeted rice by December. As of Monday, it was able to buy 1.59 lakh tonnes of the staple.
At the beginning of the current fiscal year that began in July, Bangladesh inked multiple government-to-government deals to buy rice and wheat from other countries.
From July 1 last year to January 3 this year, 7.75 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat have been imported. Of the volume, 3.62 lakh tonnes are rice.
Under the state-to-state arrangements, Bangladesh set targets to import two lakh tonnes of rice from Myanmar, 2.3 lakh tonnes of rice from Vietnam, and one lakh tonne of rice from India.
The majority of the import has already been done while the rest are on the way, said another food ministry official.
The government also struck deals to import five lakh tonnes of wheat from Russia and 1 lakh tonnes of wheat from Ukraine and Bulgaria.
The majority of the wheat have already reached the country while the rest are in the pipeline.